Brick x Brick


Brick x Brick

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
1103 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132
Phone: 305.375.3000
Fax: 305.375.1725

Focus: Design, Media Arts, Museum, Visual Arts

Annual Number Participating: 74

Ages: 11–18

Annual Budget: $58,935

Partners: Girl Power; Miami Beach Senior High School; Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services Inc.; Miami Edison Senior High School

Funders: Allied Universal Security Services; Barr Management Ltd. (Irv and Irene Barr); Nordstrom; The Educational Foundation of America; The Prentice Foundation

By inspiring youth to transform their challenges into shareable
art, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) teaches integrated problem solving to tweens and teens with troubled backgrounds. These young people discover new skills in the fields of architecture, computer graphics, geography, sociology, and art via PAMM’s signature after-school program, Brick x Brick (BxB).

From January through May of each year, the young artists focus on a different theme related to Miami’s urban built environment, unique art, and architecture. Once or twice weekly, local expert artist-mentors share their time, talents, and workspaces to teach two-hour sessions at five sites throughout the city. This approach not only provides trustworthy role models for young people coping with difficult personal situations, but also offers safe spaces that foster a sense of stability. Small class sizes allow the tweens and teens to discover their natural creativity, while developing personal, collaborative, and communication skills with peers and adults. Having doubled the number of participants during its 10-year run, BxB currently serves more than 70 students annually.

A versatile facility that features world-class exhibitions is the ideal setting for frequent BxB field trips, enabling the young artists to become an integral part of PAMM. Here, they view the galleries, witness exhibition installations, meet museum professionals, and learn more about prospective gallery careers—from accounting and security to art preparation and curatorship. Exploration of the actual building has been symbolic of both Miami’s recent growth and that of BxB’s young artists.

BxB participants and staff recognized that coping, healing, and renewing are vehicles for artistic pursuits that serve us all in trying times. For 2017’s theme, participants chose rejuvenation, which also embodies the concepts of restoration and resilience. Focusing on healing both the self and the community, students asked themselves and each other two key questions: “What are the stresses that affect us?” “What soothes and mends those stresses?”

Their responses incorporate art and design to promote health, vitality, and good feelings. And, these individual and collaborative creative projects span diverse media. The youth produced zines to share with others in the program, focusing on “things that hurt versus things that heal”; conducted multisensory and therapeutic explorations with paint, clay, fabric, and gardens; and employed special software to build virtual spaces and healing environments, as well as to reimagine themselves.

The ability to increase awareness of how neighborhoods change through neglect, redevelopment, and commercialization among such a diverse group of youth makes BxB’s programming invaluable and a unique contribution to Miami–Dade County’s future. Similarly, PAMM has designed an effective after-school creative outlet for learning, self-expression, and growth, while equipping underserved young people with valuable life and professional skills.

By giving these teens access to hands-on visual arts making and mentoring from practicing artists, Brick x Brick provides a creative outlet that might seem far from the highest priority in the context of their other personal issues. This program can be a catalytic experience for them, changing the way they see themselves and their futures.

Michael Spring Director, Miami–Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs